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'Escaping My Abuser': BBC Viewers 'Heartbroken' By Woman's Horrific Domestic Abuse Ordeal During Lockdown

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'Escaping My Abuser': BBC Viewers 'Heartbroken' By Woman's Horrific Domestic Abuse Ordeal During Lockdown

*This article contains accounts and video footage which some readers may find distressing*

BBC Panorama's newest documentary, Escaping My Abuser, left viewers "heartbroken" last night, after airing "harrowing" but all too necessary interviews with a series of domestic abuse survivors, affected by the surge in cases during lockdown.

We all knew that increased levels of abuse during lockdown was a very real issue, but the doc produced some horrifying statistics as it looked back at just how bad it got during the height of the pandemic.

Watch a clip below:

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Working with Women's Aid, they showed that police had logged over 85,000 calls for help in the UK during the first seven weeks of lockdown.

Plus, two-thirds of women in abusive relationships had suffered increased violence from their partners and three-quarters of victims felt the lockdown made it harder to escape from perpetrators.

One such woman told presenter Victoria Derbyshire she was raped "over 100 times" by her husband during lockdown, and didn't feel like she had anywhere to turn to.

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Victoria Derbyshire heard from abuse victims about their time over lockdown (Credit: BBC Panorama)
Victoria Derbyshire heard from abuse victims about their time over lockdown (Credit: BBC Panorama)

Jess - who changed her real name for security purposes - said that the moment lockdown was announced in the UK, her husband told her of the vile antics he had planned.

"I was at home with him, we were both listening to Boris Johnson and he looked over at me, he had his arms folded back and chest out, cos he knew that would intimidate me, and he looked at me and he said: 'let the games begin'," she recalled.

"And he said: 'If you think it was bad before with the rape, you're in for a rough ride.'

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"So the rape started really, really, really bad, really bad. Curtains would get closed, TV would be up loud, front door would be locked, music would be turned up, so nobody could hear me screaming for someone, for anybody."

The woman recounted her harrowing abuse (Credit: BBC Panorama)
The woman recounted her harrowing abuse (Credit: BBC Panorama)

Jess had been in a long and abusive marriage, and was convinced that the only way she would be leaving her home during lockdown was "in a wooden box".

Her husband never left the room she was in, so she couldn't ask for help for weeks, but luckily she managed to escape her husband's clutches one day when he fell asleep.

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In that short window of time, she contacted the police so they could come to her aid, and she is now being looked after in a Welsh refuge.

She was just one of multiple individuals to come forward to speak about her experience of escaping her abuser for the BBC film.

The show's presenter, Victoria, 51, also recalled her own horrific experience of witnessing domestic abuse, as she revealed why she felt so emotional for those "trapped" in abusive households.

Victoria emotionally recounted her own abuse (Credit: BBC Panorama)
Victoria emotionally recounted her own abuse (Credit: BBC Panorama)
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Fighting back tears and recalling the moment she'd seen her father hitting her mother, she said: "I remember once, he locked my mum in their bedroom and he was hitting her and there was loads of noise and I was scared.

"So I ran from here down to the police station which was, I don't know, maybe a mile or something? I was 12 or 13, I was so scared, I just ran to the police station, just ran in and said, 'My dad's hitting my mum, please can you come'".

"This Panorama episode is breaking my heart," one viewer wrote after watching the interview.

While another penned: "I always knew about the extent of the abuse in some people's homes - read about it. But hearing it was shocking."



As a third wrote: "Oh this is heartbreaking. Harrowing watching what these ladies went through during lockdown #domesticabuse #Panorama".

Referencing Victoria's story, another penned: "You was amazing thank you This was needed to let people know the full scale of domestic abuse in lockdown I'm deeply proud of you."

The Panorama episode also showed there were 1,100 less available beds in refuges compared to this time last year - a drop of 42 per cent.

Plus, it delved into how they were affected by staff shortages, social distancing rules and a lack of PPE, which meant they weren't ready for the elevated number of victims seeking their help.

Victoria told how The Men's Advice Line for male victims of domestic abuse also saw a 65 per cent rise in calls between April and July 2020 compared to the year before, and phone calls to a helpline run by Galop for LBGT+ victims doubled.

Domestic abuse cases soared during lockdown (Credit: PA)
Domestic abuse cases soared during lockdown (Credit: PA)

She said that her experience meant she was instantly "worried" when the PM announced the country must stay at home until further notice, only to leave the house for essential trips and exercise.

Viewers of The Victoria Derbyshire Show will recall she penned the number for the National Domestic Abuse helpline on her hand for a whole episode, once, in a powerful message to any victims who may be in need.

If you're a victim looking to report abuse, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. Or, if it is not safe to do so, visit the organisation's website and discreetly fill out a form.

For those in immediate danger, and in need of a 'silent solution', calling 999 and dialling in the number 55 will also alert the authorities you need help.

If you think a neighbour might be a victim of domestic abuse, call 999, and if you suspect a child is a risk, you can also contact NSPCC.

You can read Refuge's online guide in full here.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: BBC, domestic abuse

Joanna Freedman
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